A/n: I'm going to apologize because I honestly shouldn't have started this fic, but I've been itching to do a witty type first person narrative for a long time so… this happened. And hey, since I'm writing it, why not post it? Even if I'm a terrible human being who should really update my other stuff. Anyways, hope you enjoy. Let it be noted that it was incredibly difficult it was to write Andrew Garfield's characterization of Peter Parker, and I still didn't do it 100%, because, ya know, the snarky. I love Garfield, but I love snarky more. Can't wait for Tony, hehe.
Prologue: In Which They Tell Me to Leave It
It all started out with Nick Fury.
Well no, that's not a fair thing to say. It all started with me really, and the genetic research and Oscorp and trying to fix the plumbing in the attic with Uncle Ben. Uncle Ben who was loud and overbearing and who had stopped being able to help me with my homework when I turned ten but was alive. So very alive. Warm, comforting, there, and incorruptible.
It all started with my inability to leave things in the past, that fateful trip into a danger room without a protected suit (and how could I have been so stupid? And yet at the same time, so very, very lucky?) and my stupidity in giving away a formula that my father had given his life for. It all started with Gwen, and I still honestly don't know what she sees in me, because she could have it all and yet she chose a little kid who doesn't know how to express himself. It all started with that day on the bridge, when I found out that I could be more than just an angry teenager.
It all started with the man with lanky blond hair and a star tattooed on his wrist, a man I've finally stopped looking for.
To be honest I don't know what I'd do with him if I found him, and I don't want to find out.
Nick Fury was only the first warning that I got.
It was about three in the afternoon and I was doing my homework. Usually I'd have been out doing my patrols or hanging out with Gwen, but nobody really committed crime when the sun was doing a good job of cooking anyone who dared to step outside. There were of course traffic accidents to be had, but I'd calculated that the chances of Spiderman preventing one of those simply by swinging around the whole perimeter of New York was as likely as Flash Thompson scoring an A on the latest math test.
Flash had been… surprisingly kind after… things. But, that didn't change the fact that he'd never be a NASA scientist, even with Gwen tutoring him. That was where she was at the moment actually, tutoring Flash, which was why we couldn't spend the lazy Saturday afternoon curled up beside each other and talk about nothing.
It was probably a good thing in hindsight, even if I missed her presence with every cell in my being like the ferns missed the sun. But it was also true that we probably would have gotten very little done as far as schoolwork went if she were here.
Homework wasn't exactly important to me, but in these snatches of free time when I wanted to do nothing more than to flick on the television and watch the lastest episode of the Big Bang Theory, I would catch glimpse of the messy papers poking out from underneath the kettle and realize that I hadn't done anything about school for a while. Aunt May's worried tears would rise to the surface of my mind again, and I would be guilted into putting in a few spare hours just to make sure I didn't flunk school. Even when Aunt May wasn't in the house, she managed to have a say in what was to happen.
I finished was about halfway when the doorbell rang.
Wondering who it was, I put down my pen and rose to my feet. It couldn't have been Aunt May, because she said she wasn't going to be back until nine and had told me to eat dinner by myself, which she never does if she isn't sure. For a moment my heart leapt, and I wondered if it might be Gwen, finished early from her torturous hours of tutoring.
I got a pirate instead.
Okay no he wasn't a pirate, but he did wear all black and had an eyepatch, which threw me for a loop there. I had to wonder if I was getting punked.
"Look," I said warily as I leaned against the doorway, "we're not looking for air duct cleaning or any sort of new—"
"Peter Parker," the man interrupted, and I have to say, although his voice didn't send my warning sense blaring, it did shut me up immediately. I had no idea why. Maybe it was something about the low, rough tone that he used, or maybe it was just how serious he sounded. Anyway, definitely not a salesman. Even if he did have the briefcase. "We know that you're the masked vigilante known as 'Spiderman'."
That's how long it took for me to breathe again.
After the initial freakout of oh shit oh shit he knows, I'd finally calmed and decided to play it cool.
"What are you talking about?" I asked, giving him my best disbelieving smile. Should have known better than to try. Gwen always said I was a terrible liar, and that the only reason nobody had figured out that I was Spiderman yet was because they weren't expecting a kid. From the look on the dark skinned man's face, my smile came out as nervous instead. Greaat. Ring me up an Oscar's.
"Do you really want to have this conversation out on your front porch, Mr. Parker?" The man asked with a raised brow. Right. He was good. It wasn't like I was really trying to keep my identity a secret, but something about him knowing just sent chills up my spine.
And no, not those kind of chills.
And no, definitely not those kind of chills.
I was talking about my pre-emptive warning sense. How I was not getting those chills, I mean. Not… not about any other kind of chills that your sick mind might come up with. Because seriously, Gwen.
So anyhow, I got chills. The good old fashioned non-superpowered chills.
Not quite wanting to admit complete defeat (ah good old teenage rebellion) I stepped back, not saying anything. I wasn't going to invite him in after he practically threatened me, but clearing the doorway did allow him to come in.
Despite the fact that he could potentially know my greatest secret, Aunt May's etiquette laws had been drilled too deeply into me for me to completely ignore him. I closed the door and led him to the living room, discreetly shoving my homework back under the kettle.
"Uh, do you want anything to drink?" I mumbled as he took a seat and set the silver suitcase across his lap.
He looked at me for a long moment, making me shift uncomfortably, and then he shook his head. Brandishing a single hand out in front of him, he gestured to the sofa chairs across from the one he was sitting on, "Have a seat, Mr. Parker."
Despite the fact that this wasn't his house, he still managed to sound in control of it. I sat.
And then he began explaining.
Chasing down a giant green lizard who's trying to turn the whole city into mutant goo was bound to catch attention. It's just my luck that it happens to be the big-secret-government-agency-with-an-impossible-to-pronounce-name attention.
"Say again?" I asked when he was done, confusion in my voice. It wasn't that I didn't understand, because hello, 200 point IQ here, but seriously, the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division? It's not that I followed the news and knew more than the regular kid about national defense organizations (meaning of course, Jonathan Demme's latest work of imagination on how the FBI operated) but you'd think you'd hear of a department like this.
"S.H.I.E.L.D., if you must," the guy with the eyepatch said stiffly, and boy would that have been a funny sight if it weren't for the fact that he practically oozed intimidation. But that made sense. He'd explained, somewhere along the way, that he was Nick freakin' Fury and the director of SHIELD. I'd never heard of Nick Fury before, but the name just sounded director-y.
A nervous type of dread curled up at the pit of my stomach. I hoped that I wasn't in some sort of national trouble for being Spiderman. I don't think the saving lives kind of thing is bad, and I'm not going to stop doing it no matter what they say, but I have to admit that the way that I got those powers might be just a tad bit sketchy.
I sighed, running a hand through my hair. How was I going to get out of this one?
"But you're feds," I protested, "you guys only cover cases which cross states. This is provincial, municipal actually. Spiderman hasn't taken a foot out of New York. The local police should be the ones to handle him."
I still wasn't ready to admit that I was him. Spiderman, I mean. It was pretty possible that he was just bluffing. Unlikely, granted, but possible. Just in case he was carrying some recording device on him that could roll me over in any court of law, I wasn't going to say the words.
Something that looked almost like a smile flickered across Fury's face, "You're smarter than you look, but then, we knew that before I came in. Otherwise, how could you build your own biocable? As I've told you, S.H.I.E.L.D. is… special."
I slumped in my seat. Great. Of course it would be like this.
"Shouldn't I get some credit for saving the city?" I asked weakly, although I knew it wasn't a fair thing to say. After all, I was the whole reason that Dr. Connors turned into that lizard beast in the first place. Sure I cleaned up my mess, but I ended up destroying a lot of lives along the way. I knew that.
Surprisingly, Fury didn't look like he needed a lot of convincing. He didn't even glare. "You get all the credit, and that, Mr. Parker, is why S.H.I.E.L.D. is here."
Fury didn't give a verbal answer. Sliding the black briefcase onto the table, he clicked open the hatches and raised the cover. I couldn't see what was inside it, because the back of the thing was to me, and not for a moment did I think that it wasn't on purpose.
He leafed through the contents of the briefcase, and from the sound of ruffling papers, I could tell that it was… well, papers.
Gathering up a load in his hands, Fury pushed them around the black case, to me. The papers spread out over the table, revealing security clips of me at Oscorp, me changing into the Spiderman costume at various parts of the city, and me visiting Dr. Connors days before his breakthrough.
Something hard and cold settled in the pit of my stomach, and for the second time that day, I was finding it impossible to breathe.
When I first started out, I admit my mind wasn't exactly on this type of scenario, so I hadn't been discreet. At all. It wasn't until later that I thought, hey, it'd really suck to be discovered as Spiderman and have to spend the rest of my life in jail. But by then it was too late to undo the damage done in my earlier days.
And now I was paying for it.
"Look," I said, my voice hard, "if you think you can threaten—"
"Nothing of the sort, Mr. Parker," Fury said, sliding the pages upon pages of damning evidence back into a neat little pile. "SHIELD fully supports what it is that you do—that is, fighting the battles that normal people can't. Acting as the vigilante on the streets has more problems associated with it, but as you have stated, we are the feds and the New York municipality is out of our jurisdiction."
Alright, am I the only one not understanding here? Because this. This wasn't making any sense.
"Then why are you here?" I asked in a confused sort of tone.
Steeling his fingers, the man leaned forward, and for the first time I realized that it must have taken a lot of skill and willpower to get out of a situation in which one could lose an eye.
"We are here, Mr. Parker," the dark skinned man said in a low, gravely tone, "to show you that you are not nearly as clever as you think you are. You can make mistakes. Dr. Connors was your mistake also, was he not?"
I stiffened, because how could he know that? I'd only told Gwen. But Fury had hit the nail on the head, hadn't he? Because let's face it—the only reason I'd been suicidal enough to go and try to stop Connors was because he was my responsibility, and I couldn't very well let Dr. Connors take the whole fall for it.
"I won't deny it," I said with a twist to my lips.
Nick Fury nodded, as if that was the answer he had been expecting. For the first time, I felt a, well, fury, that SHIELD seemed to expect that they knew everything.
"You couldn't have known," he said, and suddenly his gaze hardened, "but that's the thing, you couldn't have known. There are so many things Mr. Parker, that you are unaware of, and while I admire your heroism, you are much too inexperienced."
My fists clenched, "So you're saying that I should quit."
"No." Fury paused, as if mulling over his words for a minute, "But that is why S.H.I.E.L.D. is here. We are here to help you. It would not be good for the government if the public found out about humans with special abilities before schedule. The files that I showed you today—they have all been deleted from the main databases. Most people won't know where to look, so you'll be able to get away with most of your antics. But I'm here to warn you that there are some who'll go to extremes to get revenge on 'Spiderman', and while our data deletion is good, it's not perfect. They may find you and I need to ask if you're prepared for that."
Okay, that threw me for a loop. Did anyone else see that coming?
Just as quickly as it had come, I felt my anger evaporate, leaving nothing but a weary and slightly confused teen in its wake.
Gah I don't think I'd ever be able to become a spy. Too many things going on at once that I could never hope to understand.
Well, that's at least one job checked off my careers list.
"I, uh," I coughed, trying to find my balance again. What I wouldn't have done for a cup of tea to hide my uncertainty while I gathered my thoughts. That was probably the reason Aunt May always made some for her guests. Huh, I suppose I should copy more of her behaviour patterns. It was evident that she knew what she was doing. I latched onto the last thing he said, because that was really the only thing I could respond to. "I'm prepared, sir."
Nick Fury's gaze seemed to sharpen at the question, "Are you Mr. Parker, are you really? I understand that you can evidently take care of yourself, but what about your friends and family? Criminals who are out for revenge won't just stop at you, you know, they'll try to destroy everyone you care about. Are you prepared for that?"
I hesitated for the slightest of moments, before nodding. "I am."
I'd be careful, so careful that a genetically engineered dog would have trouble finding me. Now that SHIELD had tipped me off about the security cameras and things, I'd watch out.
A pensive look passed his face, and Nick Fury closed the briefcase.
It didn't take a 200 point IQ to know that it wasn't part of the original plan.
"What was in there?" I asked warily, because really, if whatever organization Fury worked for had been thinking of taking me out, I wanted to know.
Fury seemed to have read my mind (and boy, wasn't that a hard thing to do, considering the IQ and the fact that I'm secretly Spiderman) because an amused glint entered his one visible eye. "Don't worry Mr. Parker, it was nothing disagreeable. It was simply… a program I'd been working on, but I do not think you are ready for it."
That was frustrating. "Care to tell me what this program is? Or am I not ready for that too?"
The dark skinned man's lips twitched, and with a command that I could only envy, he rose to his feet. It was clear as day that it was a dismissal, which should have been absolutely ridiculous since it was my house. "Perhaps in a few years, Mr. Parker."
Ugh, I never, ever, wanted to deal with secret organizations again.
I stood too. There was a part of me that just wanted to sulk there and see him let himself out, but Aunt May's upbringing got the better of me and so I walked him to the door.
The thought of Aunt May brought up a hint of relief at how lucky it was that she wasn't home at the moment and would never have to know about how a man who was wearing enough guns to take out a small elephant had been in her living room. Then again, if this really was some super-secret organization, maybe it wasn't such a coincidence after all.
And wasn't that a comforting thought.
I showed him the way out, or more accurately he showed himself the way out. We took a moment on the porch, where he stood outside and I stood at the doorway, in almost a mockery of just an hour prior.
"You don't quite understand," Fury said, and there was a softness in his voice that gave me shivers, though I couldn't place why. "But you will."
"I'm not that stupid, really," I said in frustration. He might think that I was some kid who didn't know anything, but I wasn't. I respected governments, but I remembered the policeman who had shot me during that the terrifying day only weeks before, and as much as it felt like a betrayal to Chief Stacy, I knew that the police force weren't always right.
Nick Fury only shook his head, and placed a strong, firm hand on my shoulder, "Take care, Mr. Parker."
And then, before I could reply, he had already withdrawn his hand and was walking briskly to the small black car with tinted windows parked out at the end of my driveway. I opened my mouth to give a goodbye, but ultimately felt too awkward saying anything and let my jaws snap shut again.
He stopped just as he opened the door to the passenger's seats, and finally he glanced back. His eyes were filled with a deep sort of regret that had my breath catch, and a moment later, after he'd already gotten into the car and had closed the door, my hackles rising. Because I knew what it meant. He thought I was going to screw up.
"I won't," I whispered furiously as I glared after the car which had by now pulled out onto the streets. A heartbeat later, and it had disappeared from sight entirely, as if it had never been. It really wasn't fair. I might mess things up, but I'd also always be there to fix it.
Lord, if only I knew how wrong I was at the time.